Thursday, March 22, 2007

All Planned Out


This conference is likely to be one of the most important worth attending this year. If you are a planning professional or developer we urge you to seriously consider adding this to your diary. The conference will set out to explore how land use planning will affect us domestically and internationally in the 21st century. The British planning system has been seen by many around the world as a role model since its introduction soon after the end of the 2nd World War. Times change but the planning system has always remained very conservative. How might this change? Do we need change?

This conference is likely to be one of the most important worth attending this year. If you are a planning professional or developer we urge you to visit the link here.
This conference is likely to be one of the most important worth attending this year. If you are a planning professional or developer we urge you to visit the link here.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007


Okay, off-topic though still with relevance, we are going into the Airship business. If you're a Developer, Agent, Civil Engineer etc and need to survey sites and want affordable aerial views we want to hear from you. We are buying a 20' remote controlled blimp (another name for an airship) with a camera mount, base station so we at ground level can see what the camera sees up above and take photos of whatever it is you want photos of. We also want some sponsorship and are looking for around £6000. With this you will have your company name embellished on the hull of the blimp and you will have free use of it and it's operator for two years. When on other jobs you will of course gain free advertizing from it's everyday use. Give us a call on 01843 834938 or email us via the website at
(Above image for illustrative purposes only)

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Greenbelt & Gardens

Two items of news in the same newspaper on the same day caught my eye this week. The Daily Mail reported the story of Graham Head, a farmer who breeds minature horses on the North Downs in Surrey. Seems that Mr. Head built himself a bungalow on greenbelt land. Now it seems too that Mr. Head never applied for planning permission, and who can blame him? With the ridiculous planning laws in this country he would never have gotten it anyway! The bungalow is a three bedder and in order to hide it from any eyes in the skies Mr. Head built it under an open barn as the picture here clearly shows, c/o the Daily Mail (see link below). Mr. Head had hoped to live in the bungalow for years and to hide it on the ground he had hidden it behind bales of straw. The secrecy was such a strain that his marriage crumbled. Neighbours and passers by grew suspicious and informed the local council. Mole Valley District Council. I lived in Dorking for years and know this area up round Ranmore Common. The whole area is beautiful. However, ask yourself how is it that when driving around, walking, whatever one finds houses tucked away. They were obviously built prior to the 1948 Town & Country Planning Act or if newer have replaced something of that vintage. At first glance (link below) ask yourself how much this bungalow imposes itself on the countryscape. Probably if you visited the area you'd still miss it. There are areas that need careful planning thought applied to them but a straight denial to new developments ought not fit in to that process. Surely there is an argument to allow only self-build singular projects to be built in open countryside subject to planning instead of a blanket denial? Mr. Head broke the law, he has only himself to blame but you can understand that with all this land available self-builders get frustrated. Land that is available within settlement boundaries of towns or bungalows and the like that have seen better days, which were built prior to 1948 in open countryside and are ripe for rebuild get snapped up by developers.

The next piece of news concerned a story again from the Daily Mail concerning a concerted effort led by Tory MP Greg Clark and Labour backbencher Chris Mullin to have gardens labelled as Greenfield sites, as opposed to brownfield. This all stems from the fact that developers land assemble sites from existing gardens. Suppose you and several neighbours have gardens of perhaps 150' and they decide it would be good for their bank balances to sell off a chunk of this to a developer. That is land assembly. Gardens are classed as brownfield sites therefore are fair game for development. Greg Clark, Chris Mullin and others aren't too pleased with this and want Greenfield status applied thereby making it much more difficult to develop these sites. They instead want what I suppose they would term as real brownfield sites developed. Old industrial sites, yards, depots, warehousing, that sort of thing. Stuff that does get developed. That is okay if there is an abundant supply but especially in the south-east of England, there isn't! Also, where does the industry, commerce and supply industires go? Councils will often refuse planning on this type of site as it takes away employment opportunities. Admittedly developers do not like these kind of sites as they are often inpregnated with heavy metals and need the first foot of soil removing and taking to landfill sites. That all costs money and face facts, developers like anyone else in commerce and industry aren't a charity! The Campaign to Protect Rural England have said too it is worried about garden grabbing. It calls for stronger powers for local authorities. Really, the CPRE seem to lack any real credibility over planning issues and perhaps should stick to the countryside where they come from. As in the post above, the time has come where we got rid of this ridiculous situation of insisting on a blanket ban on building in what is often termed Greenbelt and let the people back into the countryside from where they were removed by the Enclosure Acts of 150 years a go.

The first story here shows it is nigh on impossible to build in the countryside, the second story shows that when you don't build in the countryside but in the towns and cities there are people out there still ready to criticise you.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Live in your Toyota?

Not a lot of people know this but Toyota make houses! They have been doing so since 1975. Housing takes less than 1% of Toyota’s $183 billion annual sales. Design wise a buyer cab choose from several designs which includes sleek contemporary to standard fare with tiled roofing and balcony windows.

Average floor areas of a typical Japanese home have increased since the early 60s from 60 square metres to 94 square metres in 2003. The reason mainly down to the population which is in decline and ageing fast. I think we all know that feeling!
The Japanese have it all sown up of course. If you’re looking for a house visit your local ‘housing park’ where the likes of Toyota and rival homebuilders have set up model homes. Customers there are able to place orders and with the wonder of mix and match can design a layout and interior to meet their needs.

Visit Toyota here:-

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Diary Dates

Thought I ought to summarise some of the exhibitions diarised for this year that have been mentioned in this blog:

Futurebuild at London Earls Court 27 Feb-1st March URL:

Grand Designs Live at the London Excel Centre 8-10th June and at the Birmingham NEC 5th-7th October URL:

Interbuild at the Birmingham NEC 28th Oct-1st Nov URL:

Sorry, for some reason the URL link activation button doesn't seem to do what it is supposed to so please copy and paste the URL into your browser.

Grand Designs Live

The Grand Designs Live exhibition for 2007 is on the 8-10 June 2007 at the London Excel Centre and the 5-7th October at the Birmingham NEC. Visit their website at

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Interbuild Exhibition

The UK’s excellent building show will be staged from Sunday 28 October to Thursday 1 November 2007 at the NEC's three largest exhibition halls 3 / 3a, 4 and 5 in order to allow a better groupage of products together and to provide visitors with an even easier way to navigate around the show. Usually this show is held earlier in the year around April time but a consensus of opinion has seen it put back to the autumn to better suit their clients and the public alike. Visit

Grand Designs Magazine Awards

The Grand Designs Magazine Awards chaired by Kevin McCloud are here again. Here is word for word in italics an email I received from them this evening. Any takers?

The Grand Designs Magazine Awards are back for 2007 and we are beginning our search for the best products and domestic architecture from the last two years.

Kevin McCloud is once again chairing our influential panel of judges and is keen to see more of the quality demonstrated by the 2006 entries.

In conjunction with our sponsors and our esteemed media partner, The Independent, we want to see projects and products that raise the bar. So if you are a reader who has sweated blood to create your own grand design, an architect who has worked on a great project, a fledgling product designer or a grand master whose name we already know, these awards are for you.

Entry forms are available now to download or you can enter online from the 15 January 2007 at

We are keen that you enter the awards, and would like to send you email updates. If you do not wish to receive email literature relating to the Grand Designs Magazine Awards, please use the link at the bottom of this email to unsubscribe .

The excitement is mounting and we want to ensure that you have the opportunity to shine.


Claire Barrett
Editor, Grand Designs Magazine

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Your comments on new builds wanted!

Kevin's Grand Design

Seems Kevin McCloud, the presenter of Channel 4's Grand Designs is angry at the state of housing in Britain today so much so he plans to build his own suburban housing estate to show it can be done properly. However what Kevin wants is your opinions and advice from the people who live in, rent or own modern homes. He wants to know of their experiences be they good or bad. For the opportunity to voice your opinions, whether to slate modern housing, or to stick up for it, please call 01494 733528 or e-mail siobhan.canning at (Replace 'at' with @ and leave no gaps. This is to prevent spambots hounding this email address).

This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
Please remember to leave your phone number when you contact Channel 4. Siobhan Canning, Assistant Producer - Kevin's Grand DesignTalkback Thames01494 733528.

Story comes from


If you have recently bought a new home, moved in and found a number of faults that really ought not be there then the Snagging website may be just what you need. brings pressure to bear on developers who haven't perhaps ensured the expected quality of finish one would hope for in a new home. You can buy off their website a checklist of areas to search in a new home which is both methological and easy to understand for the lay-person making an inspection. They even state that if you do not find any snags with this document you can have your money back!

Visit Snagging at

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What goes up must come down.

Congratulations to Cllr. George Fairhurst of Standish, near Wigan for spotting a new block of flats that was too high, by 5 foot. Now the only way this could have been spotted was surely not with the naked eye? Mr. Fairhurst must have been checking this out with some surveying equipment or some such apparatus? In which case, did he have some kind of gripe with this development? Okay so the developers are in the wrong, they claim a 'Genuine' technical error. Afterall they built the building 5' too high. A Government Inspector had a look and has now made it quite clear the whole lot will have to come down and the foundations lowered. So, the loss of 14 flats at around £170,000 each is doubtless going to hurt the developer, Wainhomes North West. No one was complaining other than a jobs-worth councillor who thought he'd score some brownie points down at the Tory Party office in Wigan. Now an awful lot of energy has to go into pulling down these flats, lowering the foundations and rebuilding the structure. This really shows the planning system for what it is, an inflexible, out of date monument to red tapped jobs-worths. The structure one presumes wasn't going to fall down, no one had it seems noticed anything wrong with it apart from some councillor who probably went out with a load of survey gear to make sure the building was the right (wrong) height. Why couldn't the developer merely be fined for messing up? We often see reported in the newspapers stories about someone who built their house 2 foot too tall, out of line with what was agreed on plans, whatever, and yes whilst these people have plainly been served rather badly by their surveyors, planners or architects why can't some hard hitting fine be imposed instead of the very wasteful demolition and rebuilding of a structure? Rebuilding will just produce more pollution at a time that we are supposed to be cutting down on it, especially within the building industry.